Presumed to be abducted five years ago, a 17-year-old returns home to reveal the truth, collect an inheritance, and grapple with merging his disparate lives.
Michael Sterling was haphazardly raised by his alcoholic mother, a dancer (“not ballroom”) who made sure the bills were paid, but only just. Leaving his small Maine town, he dyed his blond hair and settled into a secluded life with a well-meaning couple as Sean Woodhouse. Reluctantly returning to claim an inheritance that will enable him to rescue Trip, his best friend of the past five years, from an abusive home, Sean believes the only discomfort he’ll endure is accepting responsibility for the fallout from his disappearing act. But as intermittent flashbacks shed light on the previous demidecade, Sean’s unresolved anger softens and the cocoon of safety he’s constructed unravels. Maine’s white-centric census is reflected in the cast list, with only class distinctions between the haves and have-nots providing diversity. Sean’s confusion over how to define what he and Trip share culminates in the fateful night when Trip risks outing Sean as both Michael and his love interest. The identity crisis now becomes a double-layered query: Am I Sean? And does Sean love Trip?
A split-personality coming-out coming-of-age novel that proves the old adage: No amount of hair dye can smother your true self. (Fiction. 13-17)